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Ohara cuts price of generic drug for leukemia

The Yomiuri ShimbunOhara Pharmaceutical Co. has reduced the price of its generic drug for leukemia to about half the price of the generic drugs sold by its competitors to encourage leukemia patients to use more affordable medication.

The drug is prescribed mainly to those who are suffering from chronic myelocytic leukemia.

The original medicine, Glivec, which was put on the market in 2001, is known for its effectiveness against the disease, as its users have a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.

However, patients have been under heavy financial burdens due to the high price of the drug and they have to keep taking the medication for their whole life, in principle.

The generic version of Glivec was released in 2014. The price of Glivec’s generic equivalent is about half that of the original.

Although 17 pharmaceutical companies currently sell generic versions of drug, they have a low penetration rate of about 10 percent.

The reason for the low penetration rate is that the upper limit of medical costs to be paid by patients, which is decided according to their income and other factors, often means those who choose the generic drugs see little difference in their financial burden when compared to the original drug.

To change such a situation, the Shiga Prefecture-based pharmaceutical firm has reduced its wholesale price for the generic leukemia drug, and the price of the drug became about half that of the generic drugs sold by its competitors. It is a rare case for a company to take such an initiative.

According to the company, the generic drug will cost a patient about ¥290,000 a year, compared to about ¥420,000 for using the original medicine, when a person younger than 70 years old with an annual income ranging between about ¥3.7 million and ¥7.7 million receives a standard prescription.

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